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Outdoors holiday gift guide

A self-professed minimalist, I'd rather have of a few pieces of high-quality equipment than a huge array of so-so gear. My wife, of course, would laugh at the previous statement. She thinks my "man cave," the room most folks call a garage, is filled with nothing but useless junk. She doesn't understand that as a professional adventurer — a man who must fish, hunt, camp, paddle, hike, dive, sail and surf regularly as part of my job — I need specific equipment for each sport. She looks at the crowded shelves and sees a mess. I look upon the same space and see endless opportunity. And while I am better equipped than most outdoors enthusiasts, I could still use a few things. So this Christmas, instead of buying me another sweater that I won't wear, how about …

Vasque Mantra GTX

While hip-hop stars collect basketball shoes, we adventure guys stockpile hiking boots. Don't let the conservative good looks of this lightweight hiker fool you. This agile performer has a tenacious grip thanks to the Vibram Ananasi sole and an athletic fit that will come in handy if you are forced to outrun a mountain lion in Colorado. Waterproof, durable and lightweight at 2 pounds, 2 ounces, this shoe works on and off the trail. Available in men's and women's sizes for $125. www.vasque.com

Shad swimbait

Looking for a present for the fisherman who has everything except fish? Check out the Bill Siemantel Signature Spro BBZ-1 Shad, perhaps the most realistic-looking swimbait on the market today. The BBZ-1 Shad is available in floating, slowing-sinking and sinking models. Price: $24.95. www.spro.com

Ice cream maker

Sure, I like to rough it. But if Teddy Roosevelt could eat off fine china in the African bush, why can't I have homemade ice cream while camping at Hillsborough River State Park? This portable ice cream maker is great for camping, boating and picnics. Just remove the lid from the ice end of the ball and fill with ice. Add a 1/2 cup rock salt. Close the lid. Mix your ice cream ingredients in a container and add to the end with the metal cylinder. Close the lid. Hand off to the kids and tell them to shake, rattle and roll the ball around for 15 to 20 minutes. Price: $19.99. www.icecreamrevolution.com

MSR Hyperflow Microfilter

I'm not afraid to admit that I've consumed my share of water from ponds covered with green scum. And I have also spent many a sleepless night bent over with dysentery. Thankfully, the folks at MSR have built an ultralight water filtration system that will fit in any backpack. Pumping more than 3 liters per minute, weighing 7.4 ounces and, most important, field maintainable, the Hyperflow might just keep me out of those Third World emergency rooms. Price: $99.95. www.msrgear.com

Stanley vacuum bottle

Sitting in a duck blind on a cold December morning, you reach for your thermos and find the contents lukewarm at best. Put down that shotgun and pick up a Stanley, the king of coffee containers. The Stanley stainless steel 1.1 quart Classic Vacuum Bottle is the ultimate in durability. Double-wall stainless steel unbreakable vacuum insulation keeps that cup of Joe piping hot all day. Price: $32. www.stanleyoutdoor.com

Stanley food jar

And if soup is your thing, check out the packable, leakproof 20-ounce food jar (steel fork/spoon included) guaranteed to keep your chicken noodle yummy all day. Price: $28. www.stanleyoutdoor.com

Leatherman Skeletool

I tell my Cub Scouts that you can never have too many flashlights or pocketknives. Even though I have an assortment of multitools, this new offering from industry leader Leatherman is just too cool for this fool. A mere 5 ounces, the full-size Skeletool has a stainless steel blade, pliers, bit driver, removable pocket clip and carabiner/bottle opener. Look out MacGyver! Price: $69.95. www.leatherman.com

Lunch tote

Brown paper bags kill trees! Get yourself a reusable lunch tote for your next day hike. Kelty, better known for its packs, tents and sleeping bags, has branched out into the land of lunch sacks. Insulated with a waterproof lining, PVC free and measuring 7.5 inches by 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches, this tote is great for adults and kids alike. Price: $16. www.kelty.com

Fold flat tableware

What's that up your sleeve, Survivorman? A bowl and mug? Yes, super-light, ultracompact, easy-to-clean and unbreakable, this folding tableware from Orikaso fits in your back pocket. This bowl and mug are constructed from a completely flat piece of polypropylene. Weighing only a few grams and less than a millimeter thick, these products can be used again and again without suffering structural fatigue or weakening, which makes them ideal for any expedition where space and weight are issues. Price: $5.99 each. www.orikaso.com

Shakespeare fishing pliers

Every angler needs a good set of pliers. These heavy-duty, stainless-steel hook handlers come with a corrosion-resistant titanium finish. Textured rubber grips and spring-loaded handles make any job easier. The built-in cutters will handle braided line. An added plus: hook sharpeners on each blade. The pliers also come with a lanyard and sheath. Price: $49. www.shakespeare-fishing.com

Drinking container

Plastic water bottles are bad for the environment, and they don't look nearly as cool as the stainless steel drinking containers from Bilt. Leave a couple of these on your desk and tell your coworkers you picked them up the last time you summited Everest. Price: $17. www.bilt.ca

Sawyer water filtration bottle

If you can't tote a filtration system on your next trip, a good alternative is a filtration bottle. Simply fill it up with unfiltered water, screw the cap on, and drink up. It can also be used with a hydration pack and/or a faucet adapter. The fast-flow hollow fiber membrane, developed from medical dialysis equipment, will filter 1-million gallons of water. That should last you until you get home. Price: $59.99. www.sawyer.com

Digital camera

Next time you land a 180-pound tarpon on 12-pound test, don't get caught without a camera. Intova's IC500 Sports Digital Camera is a waterproof, shock-resistant, compact camera even a fisherman can operate. With its rugged housing, you can take this camera hiking, camping, biking, kayaking, skiing, even surfing. Specifications: 5.0 megapixel, waterproof to 130 feet, four-times digital zoom, full function button control, 16MB internal memory upgradable to 2GB with SD card, video and still shot capability, full-function flash, 2.5-inch color LCD display. Price: $139.95. www.intova.net

Waterproof light

This wide-angle "torch" from Intova would make a coal miner proud. Small yet powerful, this LED has a bright, clear pattern making it useful for divers, campers and paddlers. Waterproof to 400 feet with an eight-hour burn time, this is a serious light for serious adventurers. Price: $66. www.intova.net

Lodge cast iron skillet

Nothing beats bacon and eggs cooked over an open fire, unless you've got some buttermilk pancake mix stashed in your canoe. When cooking outdoors, cast iron is the key, and nobody does cast iron like Lodge. These season skillets are a good cook's most important piece of equipment, inside or outdoors. Not even the most expensive stainless or aluminum cookware can rival the even heating, heat retention, versatility, value and durability of this timeless cookware. Choose from the 101/4-inch diameter, 2-inch depth, 6-pound model for $14.95, or the 12-inch diameter, 8-pound model for $24.95. www.lodgemfg.com

Products courtesy of the Bill Jackson Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park.

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Outdoors holiday gift guide 12/04/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 4, 2008 3:31am]
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